Monday, August 4, 2008

CEC calls for government to rescind geothermal license

The Clean Energy Corporation, comforted by the solid and unwavering outpouring of support by Dominicans at home and abroad who are aghast by the recent grant of geothermal license to a non-Dominican concern for what appears to be a pittance in ownership share or revenue sharing by the government and people of Dominica, wishes to make the following clear.

We have been the advocates of renewable energy development owned and developed for the benefit of Dominicans from the outset. See at the Project Link: Operation Energy Emancipation. Geothermal energy comes from our sub-surface hot rock and is a renewable resource. Thus, it falls within that renewable energy category.

On the issue of Geothermal development we have proposed a Government Linked Company for many years, where the government gets 70% of the profits and Dominicans 30%.

The model was the same public sector/private sector partnership as in the original National Commercial Bank which is one of Labour's best success stories.

All during this process the Prime Minister has been aware of our position in the national interest and agreed in principle and encouraged what is an effort at avoiding the sort of WRB strangle hold on our energy grid.

To that end, over time, we brought government ministers to the Geothermal plant in Guadeloupe. Mr. Douglas was the leader in forging the links with the French Departments.

The project engineer at the Guadeloupe geothermal plants, Mr. Claude Barnnwarth agreed to work with us, as a people and government, to run our plant as a consultant until our local competence was trained ready to take over.

He also agreed to teach our people the power plant management skills. So we have had a long partnership with those closest to Dominica who have development and managed geothermal development plants in excess of ten (10) megawatts.

This is well known to the Prime Minister as we have consistently communicated our plans and capabilities to him, as part of our Dominica centered development cause.

Indeed, Ministers Skerrit and Vince Henderson attended the 2001 Dominicans in the Development Process Symposium in Brooklyn New York and encouraged such partnership for development as we proposed in renewable energy.

We always believed that we had his support of a local initiative at sustainable development.

At all times, this has been an effort at local control of our natural resources, employment of our people, infusion of much needed income into government's coffers so we do not have to suffer from the punishing taxes such as VAT.

With more revenue - such as that from geothermal development owned by an entity where government and the national interest are at the fore, we would have a more competitive and stable economy.

Despite years of trying however, the government had not moved. However, it was our hope that such a "Dominica First" option with government and private partnership would have taken place this year - the year of our celebration of 30 years of independence -especially where we are now subject to crushing fossil fuel price hikes; something outside our control.

Had government taken that national option and given a license to CEC, or its predecessor organization DSEC, we would have had a geothermal plant installed on Dominica by now. Instead there was delay.

All the while since 2001 - as an organization, and via our predecessor organizations, affiliates and partners, we have steadily worked and spent some 3.8 million EC dollars on:

1. Wind turbines
2. Wind studies
3. Consultancies
4. Solar oven technology
5. Solar Project at Layou - dedicated last Saturday - July 27, 2008.

We were working hand in hand with government on a matter of national importance and believed we had the confidence of our government at all times that we would put Dominica and Dominicans first where it concerns the use, development and control of our vital natural resources.

UN Ambassador. Crispin Gregoire just returned from Iceland in June 2008 and had secured the full support of that government (the most advanced country in geothermal development which has kept its resource under its control) for our country's efforts.

There has been agreement in principle by the government of Venezuela to assist us in controlling that resource by our government and people. The Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) as a concept seeks the independence of our peoples and we support that. Venezuela is our biggest donor at this time.

How could we be benefiting from Venezuela's ownership of its natural resources, yet give up control of our own?

There is no need then, in our view, to bargain away portions of that resource to companies such as West Indies Power. We demand a National Geothermal Company owned primarily by Dominicans and the Government of Dominica for the benefit - primarily of our people.

That has not been done here. What we are advised is that an operation involving the Chairman of our national bank and some Russian interests led by one Dimitri of a group called West Indies Power.

We were never advised our bid was non-conforming or that we lacked funds or capacity: excuses we now hear of. There has never been a formal response to our many proposals - not even the courtesy of a rejection letter!

All we heard on the news was that a contract was signed which - up till this moment - has not been disclosed to the Dominican people who have suffered so much ruin at the hand of anti-national interest who once exploited our limes, sugar cane, cocoa, vanilla and bananas with little in country development to show for it.

We have struggled against colonialism and neo-colonialism all our lives and placed Dominica first in all we do. We will not backslide now and be silent simply because a government which has had our unmitigated support is in power. We support our country over any party or personal interest.

So here we are. While the people are being distracted by a Reunion, focused on idle feting instead of substantive focus on development and development projects, we suddenly hear of a license to another foreign concern.

Suddenly and without notice, or discussion of any national geothermal policy or plan and what it portends for our future development, West Indies Power was granted a license.

There was no transparency here and no discussion with those of us at home and in the Diaspora who have always championed Dominica first and who have been the leaders in the renewable energy campaign from the outset.

No other group of persons have done more for the development of renewable energy projects, education of our government and people on renewable energy than we have.

Even the 2007 budget outline on renewable energy had our input - based on the Prime Ministers request.

Now we have this behind the scenes deal where Dominica and Dominicans are made to play second fiddle to a company chaired by the general manager of our own national bank - something which reeks of conflict of interest.

We ask that the contract be made public. Again, we ask that the contract be disclosed.

Again, we will not be party to a trend which marginalizes Dominicans where it concerns the exploitation of natural resources to the disservice of the country.

The government leadership may be deaf to the outcry over the dominance of our quarries by foreign interest in exchange for a pittance.

The overwhelming majority of Dominicans are upset over such management of quarrying but many remain silent for fear of victimization.

Now that we have spoken some of our own brothers try to doubt our sincere desire to build a better Dominica and dare to claim we are self serving or are not capable.

If we never trust our own, how shall we build? And if we do not own and maximize for ourselves what is ours, then Emancipation Day is a hoax and we are perpetrating a fraud on our people by celebrating it.

We have asked for the following: 1. Disclosure of the contract terms for what is a matter of public interest and a national resource;
2. Rescinding of the contract;
3. A Dominica centered renewable energy policy and regulatory scheme to ensure that ownership of the resource remains predominantly in local/government hands and that the greater part of revenues accrue to the national government not some narrow private interest, group or clique.

These demands must be addressed and as we do not desire that such neo-colonial deals be extended to geothermal exploitation.

This has never been a personal, partisan, or some money grubbing position. We have always advocated a solution in line with our historic commitment to independence and a development policy which puts Dominica first.

We care not that a red cent goes into our pockets; but we must ensure the nation survives. It cannot survive on the current development course and is headed toward failed state status, where we do not arrest this backward trend.

At our 30th anniversary of independence of Dominica we deserve better; we state loudly and firmly - as we warned before - no sell out will be acceptable here.

Dominica is not the province of some government or minister to be bartered away in some whimsical or niggardly manner. May the government and our people be always guided by our unwavering principle: That the natural resources of Dominica be owned and utilized for the benefit of our people first, before all else, at all times.


At August 4, 2008 12:40 PM , Anonymous Tim Baron said...

Alas! How stupid can we be? How can we sell out our resources like this? Any friendly gov't would give us money to develop those resources.

How much money did the Russians give Skerrit?

At August 4, 2008 3:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a crying shame! Why do we as a nation continue to make decisions that will only keep us in a state where our only option is .. to use the local expression ... "to beg, bum, steal and borrow". Can't believe yet another important natural resource is handed over to foreigners!

At August 4, 2008 5:13 PM , Blogger Debbie A. Douglas said...

I fully support the authors of this article and I join them in calling for the government to rescind the contract a.s.a.p. It is a crying shame that this government is continuing to undermine Dominicans by putting foreigners in control of our resources. My father the late Prime Minister of Dominica,Rosie Douglas use to say "no government should be in power that does not have complete confidence in its people regardless of their level of development". It is difficult to comprehend how a DLP led administration would deviate from its core principles. This is not the DLP of Rosie Douglas, the late Pierre Charles and the late Michael Douglas. We Dominicans are quite capable of managing our own affairs, it is time that this administration recognize that. Dominica belongs to all of us not just a few, we must not allow our country to be hijack by persons who don't have the country's best interest at heart. How else can you explain their decision to take away the project from capable Dominicans and put it into the hands of foreigners. This is an affront to Dominicans and our sense of nationhood.

This is not the first time this administration has behaved in such an unpatriotic manner - we see with the case of the Waitikubuli Trail that this project was taken away from WES (Bernard Wiltshire) and given to foreigners. Then there is the case of our government hiring foreigners of questionable character to represent us as diplomats. A case in point is Mr. David Shui who is our Ambassador to China. Why does Dominica have a Chinese represent its interest in China? Who is Mr. David Shui? Is there no capable Dominican that can represent our country in China? Would the Chinese or any other serious government appoint a foreigner to represent their country? The answer to this is no. Then, why are we engaging in such unpatriotic and foolish behaviour? What is the rationale for this behaviour? What is the quid pro quo? This is a absolutely disgraceful! A dangerous trend that must stop a.s.a.p. It is time for Dominicans to reclaim their government.

I will close with a quote from the DLP manifesto of 2000. This can be found on page 5 of the manifesto and it reads "A DLP Government will be resolute in ensuring that Dominicans and Dominican companies & enterprizes are given first choice in employment and business opportunties. The renewal and rebuilding of our society and economy on a basis that can be sustained, depends critically on the emphasis we place on developing our human resources. For this reason, DLP Government regards our people and their talents as central to ushering in a new era of opportunity for Dominicans. We can only get the best out of our efforts of our people if we can create the conditions in which they have a real stake, real ownership and real confidence in our future". It is time for Dominicans to stand up and take back their government. And demand that the interest of Dominica be placed first and above all personal and self interest. Our people deserves no less and that is what the late Rosie Douglas fought and died for.

Debbie A. Douglas
Toronto, Canada.

At August 4, 2008 10:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Honourable gentleman appointed to chair the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Geothermal energy (the other Energy Minister) tried pitiful attempts to mislead the Dominican public on several appearances on various talk shows over the past week to explain the reason why his government decided to reject the proposal presented by CEC.
The core of his message was that CEC did not have the monies to conduct exploratory drilling of Geothermal resources in Dominica.
The Other Energy Minister (OEM) never told us about the Proposal which CEC presented to Government regarding the establishment of a Government Linked Company (GLC) for the Development of Dominica's Geothermal Resources. It would be interesting to present the contents of this proposal to the public and let them see what is contained in there that is not to the liking of the OEM.
The CEC's Proposal should never be dismissed by Government on the basis of "lack of funding". We all know that there are several sources of funding for renewable energies around the world today.
Apart from the French sources which are readily available to us very importantly we have the Petro Caribe and ALBA at our disposal where all the funding needed to produce cheap Geothermal energy is at hand. The people who attend the Summits or Petro Caribe and Alba only tell us about tank farms an oil refineries. They never told us what the Declaration of the 4th Petro Caribe Summit said about Renewable Energy and Geothermal.
Paragraph 10 of that Declaration states:
"10. We are determined to promote energy savings and efficiency and development of renewable energies so as in this way to contribute to energy security, to promote universal access to energy and the conservation of the environment"
That Declaration was made on the 21 December 2007. The CEC Proposal was in April of 2007. We were already a member of Petro Caribe.
At the end of the 4th Petro Caribe Summit in Cuba in December 2007 Venezuelan Energy Minister, Rafael Ramirez told the press among other things, the following:
"Initiating Alternative Energy projects was another key point mentioned by Raul and Chavez at the meeting. ........... studies show that the potential exists in the Caribbean to substitute 32% of the energy currently used with Alternative Energy Sources that run from wind parks, solar to geothermal"
We can safely conclude that ALBA and Petro Caribe are wonderful opportunities to source monies to explore and develop our Geothermal resources.
I must also say that Debbie has contributed a masterpiece on the subject at hand

I agree the agreement must be rescinded so that we can celebrate our 30th Anniversary of Political Independence as a people who have found a road on which to match for our Economic Independence.
The emerging pattern of struggle for our island Dominica is much the same as it has been for the past 500 years - fighting to ensure that our enormous natural resources benefit ourselves and our children rather than people from the far side of the world.
We can correct this mistake.

At August 5, 2008 10:49 AM , Blogger Debbie A. Douglas said...

This was sent to me via email from my friend, Dr. Isaac Newton.

Your response to that thoughtful article outlines a touchtone analysis detailing an anatomy of betrayal. The DLP appears to be pursuing a policy direction that is anchored in a colonized mentality.

This mentality believes and defends the notion that excellence is imported and things foreign are superior. There is no regard for indigenous solutions. And, there is little valuing except in loquacious words, for local intelligence and national resources, which are needed to bring progress and sustainable development to your lovely island.

PM Skeritt is not alone. He has ample company in PM Spencer and others (Jamaica, St. Lucia) whose kneejerk response to domestic challenges craves exclusively for outside assistance that often complicates rather than alleviates internal woes.

As a former leader of the DLP, your dad's luminary vision at core expressed the founding values and people-centered principles of the DLP. This makes this betrayal even the more, wantonly horrific! What precisely went so mournfully wrong?

Deb, why do you think that so many political leaders prefer to make millions off of the misery of our people, than to turn our people's plight into booming progress?

Solace and Peace,

Dr. Isaac Newton

At August 5, 2008 12:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A DLP Government will be resolute in ensuring that Dominicans and Dominican companies & enterprizes are given first choice in employment and business opportunities. The renewal and rebuilding of our society and economy on a basis that can be sustained, depends critically on the emphasis we place on developing our human resources. For this reason, DLP Government regards our people and their talents as central to ushering in a new era of opportunity for Dominicans. We can only get the best out of our efforts of our people if we can create the conditions in which they have a real stake, real ownership and real confidence in our future".

Essentially what Debbie’s comment shows is that the patriotic philosophy of Rosie’s 2000 DLP is not the philosophy of the 2008 DLP. These guys have lost their way.

At August 6, 2008 2:13 AM , Anonymous Tim Bennett said...

Based on this government sellout, Dominicans should ensure that PM Skerrit and his group of desperados are NOT reelected come 2010. WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH

At August 7, 2008 4:31 AM , Blogger Challie said...

Whenever I read information, I think it is important to let things settle in the brain - so that it can make sense. I am saying this because I prefer to respond sans emotion. After reading the article, I am mad/upset. But then I must relax, and then try to see what is going on.

Without knowing any more information, I should understand that there are two (2) parties involved in the dispute. So, when I hear the story from one side I must understand that this is just "one side". Keeping in mind the story is probably correct for the most part, I am sure that there is some "spin" in a particular direction. Again, I am sure the core of the story is true; but there must be some piece presented that is not exactly as stated.

I just think that the other party involved (The Government) could not act so irresponsibly. I am not sure what that says about me, but I just do not expect the other party to so blatantly double-cross the other. Of course, I could be wrong. But I will wait patiently to see if there is some "spin" from the other side (The Government) and then come to my conclusion.

In our anger, we should be looking at all options available to solve the issue (we have no problems). The article has provided one possible solution. We must keep in mind, however, that this solution may not be possible.

All that being said, we must always remember: DOMINICA For Dominicans!

At August 7, 2008 10:24 AM , Anonymous John Quashee said...

The decision by this government to grant a license to West Indies Power is so disappointing that it is not funny.Rosie and Mike must be turning in their graves given the route that their pupils have taken. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Fidel Castro and Chavez have disowned Skerrit when they learn of this debacle. What kind of advice is Skerrit and company getting? Or are they ignoring one set in favour of another? Does this bolster Athie's claim that Skerrit and Vince joined Labour's ticket not from any core Labour values but because they were paid? You look around the world ( Russia Mexico,Venezuela,Iraq,Venezuela,Saudi Arabia,Iran)and you see that the governments of these countries are trying to ensure that they control their natural resources so that the larger share of the profits are used to improve the living conditions of their people. For years, we have been cursing our luck that Dominica was not blessed like Barbados or Antigua with white sand beaches to drive our development through tourism. Lo and behold, in the 30th year of our independence, our bounty has been revealed to us and the first thing our political leaders do is that they give it away for 30 pieces of silver. Don't they realize that the profits from the exploitation of our natural resources is what will take us out of poverty, fund the better schools, better hospitals, better roads, better housing, better air access, pay our teachers and nurses better, all that we aspire to and which has us now begging all over the world?

There is saying that evil flourishes when good men sit back and do nothing. Skerrit and company have lost their way and are betraying the core principles that ought to guide the Labour Party. The rank and file of Labour must stand up for Labour Power and say enough is enough. The pressure to rescind this agreement must be maintained and concrete efforts,from petitions to demonstrations, must be pursued to force the point home.

At August 7, 2008 7:22 PM , Blogger shirley allan said...

Ces't choise de meim.. If I am to really get into it, there will be no end.. All I can say is that it is very funny to see these complaints coming from the protectors of this Government.. I say let them eat cake..

Shirley Allan, yours truly!

At August 10, 2008 4:13 AM , Anonymous John Quashee said...

Shirley, the system of government under which we operate means that we have to live with the fact that there will be suppporters of different political parties. But this issue goes beyond partisan politics. It's not an issue of a "choise de meme" or getting a certain satisfaction in "them eating cake". All of us have to pay VAT, and DOMLEC's high electricity rates. This issue is about Dominicans controlling their natural resources with a view to getting the VAT and DOMLEC monkeys off our backs. This issue is about having the profits from geothermal energy go to bettering the life of all Dominicans and not just foreign smooth talkers with fat briefcases.

At August 13, 2008 11:01 AM , Blogger meliorist said...

This post has been removed by the author.

At August 13, 2008 11:17 AM , Blogger meliorist said...

Hey John,
Sorry, I had to remove my previous post, when I re-read it, it was so terrible with typos.. However, as I said before. I do understand where you are coming from, and I don't dis-agree with you, but if you were following the discussions on the DAAS yahoo group, you would understand where I am coming from. I have constantly and forcefully speaking aganist the selling out of Dominica to foreigners, be it State, entity or individual, and I have been blasted left, rigt, and center for my views, I was even dubiously called un-patriotic. I sympathize with the hradships that Domincans are going through right now, although some would want to make us beleive that there is no such hardships, but that is a fight to Dominicans to take on their own, it is time that Dominican learn or - re-learn rather to fight for their interets and not that of poilical scroundrels, and their operatives. They know how to do it, they have done it before, they need leaders with guts and principle.. "Where are they?" One thing you ought to know about me is that I am 100% non-partisan, I am not alligned or connected to Any political party, not in my adopted homeland America, (I was leaning to the Democratic Party for some time, but that has changed) I am totally independent. and not in birth place Dominica, (I used to be a member of the UWP, but that has cahnged to) I have learnt my lesson well in politics and politicians, so the patisian label I will never accept. But I understand what you mean, and I say if Dominican will not fight to protect their interests.. Let them eat cake. I make no apologies for that.

At August 17, 2008 5:03 PM , Anonymous Debbie Douglas said...

This article was printed by Dr. Isaac Newton and posted on the Caribbean blog site, takingsides in response to Tony Astaphan clumsy and futile attempt to try to prevent me from speaking up for the principles of the founding father's of the DLP and my late father, Rosie, Douglas. I will never give up the fight!!!!

Beyond Astaphanism to a Promising Dominica/Caribbean Future

Hi Debbie,

It is horrifying that Mr. Anthony Astaphan (a prominent regional attorney) so vividly disregards social norms, indulges in such repugnant foul play, and vomits this utter rage. The bonus of his remark is its vintage vile-truly a trademark of a person, comfortably traveling down the low road where not even dogs would choose to gravel or pigs may want to wallow.

There must be some rooted reason why Mr. Astaphan appears to keep his bile so close to his skin. Might it be that his stance against the harpooning of whales in the Caribbean Sea wasn't strong enough to prevent a special whale closer to home, from being publicly harpooned?

Mr. Astaphan's callous act of posting your letter on the blog comes across as a blackmail artist of the highest order. It is pathetic if Tony feels that his outburst is a legitimate substitute for your conscious analysis of the political betrayals, taking place in Dominica, in the name of your father's legacy.

Great leaders have always had to straddle the fence between monumental ideals and personal foibles. Often family members bear the blunt of their sacrifices. Clearly it is understandable that you should call your dad to order at a moment of college surviving a decade ago. But I can't see how that private matter undermines your admiration of his legacy or disqualifies you from preserving his honor and walking in his footprints.

The masses remember leaders who remember them. These leaders value those they serve. Rosie Douglas is memorialized in the hearts and minds of Dominicans and throughout the Caribbean for going against the grain of his shortcomings, and achieving for others, the greater good.

Leaders like your father (Eric Williams. C. V. Bird Sr., John Compton, Michael Manley etc) are more relevant to the world. They are the dead living who stands in stark contrast to the many living dead. Whereas the former cherishes a lasting legacy, the latter hunger and thirst after brand name suits, pomp and ceremony while ignoring all the signs that they are simply a few years away from total oblivion.

It is sleazy to attack the messenger, and leave the message unchallenged-nothing but a wounded and puerile expression of gutter politics.

I'd much prefer to understand, why an ambassador appointed by the DLP regime, is suing the government without being fired, than to see a smokescreen reply, which brushes aside the sufferings of Dominicans.

What Mr. Astaphan has done in this instance is vicious. It reaffirms my initial impression of him- not dumb but no way close to being bright. Debbie, I have two suggestions. Pity and pray for Mr. Astaphan that he recovers from what seems to be public discourse deviance, which promotes the politics of personality destruction. Apparently, there is no regard for balancing ethical sensitivities and discretionary boundaries.

Since you are keen on having ongoing discussions based on the merits of forthright analyses snuggling complex subtleties, why waste your professional capital on mangled thinking? Don't! Mr. Astaphan's behavior is scandalous. Consider comprehensively ignoring that kind of deficiency.

After treating my mind to the charm and honesty that characterized your article, and how you poignantly tackled difficult but delicate issues, six questions jumped out at me.

How did you muster the bravery to monitor the center of power, and highlight conditions of injustices at home? In what ways are Dominicans participating in their social isolation? Why the logic of meritocracy and an inequitable version of foreign partnerships are working to hide the harsh realities on the ground?
Is it possible that the PM's crop of advisors lack the world-wise complexity needed to assist the government in delivering promised results? Does a PM's choice of advisors reveal anything significant about his personality, wisdom, and vision?
What programs have DLP supported that are in tune with Dominicans right to a better standard of living and abundant wellbeing? Which sector of society benefits most from the DLP's leadership? How might Dominicans induce their leaders to behave in more fruitful and functionally responsible ways? Is it true that Ross Medical School is relocating? How might that affect the local economy? Is this move an indication of the current administration's dysfunctions?
What created the gap between what DLP's stalwarts including your father stood for, and the practices of the current administration? Is there an internal movement in the DLP to attract new talent? Does the party have succession and conflict management structures in place to ensure its survival? Is the party using its talent pool effectively or are certain members of the party sidelined for power grabbing reasons? What are the party wise elders doing to salvage its image? Is the only option left to fix the DLP that of going into the wilderness?
Is the opposition perceived as the credible alternative to the DLP? Given the wind of change sweeping the Caribbean, how likely it is for the opposition under new leadership, to win the next general elections?
If Caribbean leaders were to clear their calendars and take their phones of the hook, what lessons, hopes and recollections from Dominica's current plight, may help them improve their executive quotient?
Far too often, the idea of washing one's dirty linen at home is advanced on the false premise that 'place' is more significant than 'the principle' of purity/cleanliness. I admire your integrity based voicing. Being a faithful DLP supporter under this situation, can't be easy.

In the context of Dominica's and the wider Caribbean's future however, I see Astaphanism as one of our major hurdles. It is a senseless symbiosis between disturbing undemocratic practices that devalues the poor, and a mindset that delights in under the table pilfering of national wealth, by a few bad apples. These forces collide to subvert nation building efforts across the region.

Astaphanism emerges from a psychology of self absorbed myopia preoccupied with total nonsense. Its operative is power at any cost dipped in delusionary pride. And it lacks exposures to mature, critical, and intelligent public dialogue that ruin you to enjoy crafty chatter. Also this phenomenon abhors democracy by diplomacy. Tony has demonstrated crude dimensions of it.

Unfortunately, some of our leaders deploy Astaphanism for personal ambition, power fortunes, and high visibility. But they do this at the expense of people-centered development and the peril of their own souls.

An antidote to Astaphanism means that we'll have to put in place a chorus of political movements where voices and follow through actions, celebrate friendship and hope, self love and compassion, reconciliation and forgiveness, honesty and openness, and prosperity and good health. We ought also to examine the processes by which we choose, and systems through which we nurture regional leaders.

I suggest we leave the doors open and the lights on, to imagine the daring, and aim for the impossible. If our people are given the right motivation, encouragement, validity, support, and opportunity, they will do more than just pursue success; they will map out a promising Caribbean future, where excellence is created moment by moment. But we must first get pass every iota of Astaphansim.

Solace and Peace,

Dr. Isaac Newton-International Leadership and Change Management Consultant and Political Adviser who specializes in Government and Business Relations, and Sustainable Development Projects. Dr. Newton works extensively, in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and is a graduate of Oakwood College, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia. He has published several books on personal development and written many articles on economics, leadership, political, social, and faith based issues.

At August 18, 2008 9:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

WoW! where is all this coming from and where is it going? Where will it end? All this for the sake of my Dominican folk? or is is a battle of personal egos at the expense of the Dominican people?

At August 19, 2008 1:47 AM , Blogger Jefferson Challenger said...

Well said, Mr. Anonymous or maybe Ms. Anonymous. Well said...

At August 19, 2008 12:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Anonymous. It seems these questions have to be asked anonymously. I don't like the idea of being anonymous, but I prefer to ask them anonymously than not to ask them at all. Whos know if tempted I will remove my mask.. I hate wearing masks anyway! LOL Peace

At August 20, 2008 3:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad, sad very sad! When Skerrit and his gang finish with all you not even the shirt on your backs will you own. Yeah, it will be owned by some foreign entity who will have you buy the cloth, cut and sew it and they in turn will put a label on it and rent it back to you until death.

But on the other hands, the so called intellectuals in the diaspora who put Skeritt in power "by all means necessary" is only getting a taste of their own medicine. They may not openly admit it, but they did it for self gain which unfortunately did not materialize because Skerrit only care about Skerritt and his personal gang.

Wake up DOMINICANS and take your country back..

At August 30, 2008 7:42 PM , Blogger Wayne said...

It is very clear that the rank and file of Dominicans are opposed to this agreement. The government of Dominica made a serious mistake and we should assist them in making it right.

Let us all sign this petition and send the government a clear message that we will not stand for this nonsense.

At September 1, 2008 7:56 PM , Blogger Debbie A. Douglas said...

Dear Dr. Newton,

Thanks for your encouragement and perspective. I can depend on you to ask challenging questions. I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Astaphan is not a worthy intellectual partner. A friend said to me in an email, 'by way of talent, this man is a small fish in a small pond trying to be a big fish'. In the future, I will not waste my intellectual capital in conversation with Tony. Instead, I would much rather spend my time engaged in discussion with person(s) who are driven by a sense of urgency to assist in solving the many problems that Dominicans and other Caribbean people face.

Before, I address the questions that you raised; I would like to shed some light on the letter that I wrote to my father back in 1998, publicly ostracizing him for neglecting me. Early in his career, he made it very clear to all concern that he was going to spend his life fighting for the rights of black people throughout the world. In 1969, he went to prison in Montreal, for his role in a student uprising at Sir George Williams University. At the time, he was defending the rights of Caribbean students who were discriminated against at the university. Before he went to prison, he wrote his parents a letter, telling them that he has taken a stance against racism (in Canada) and he was going to devote his life for just causes beginning with the rights of black people. He told them that they should assist his children, Debbie and Tiyani (aka Robert Bernard Douglas, Jr.), because he will not be able to do so. My grandfather was very angry with him, but he felt it was his duty to nurture us. My brother and I were raised by both our maternal and paternal grandparents. By Dominican standards, my grandparents were considered well off; as a result, all of my childhood material needs were met. I had a relatively happy childhood, always surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandparents, so I felt loved and protected.

Understandably, my father was an absentee father. In fact, my early recollection of him was letters that he would write to us from prison. My maternal grandaunt, Constance Trocard, read these letters to my brother and me. I remembered being teased by children in school, telling me that 'your father is a jail bird' and I use to cry. In 1976, when he was released from prison and deported back to Dominica, I got to know him better. That was the first time in my life; I was able to spend quality time with my father. He wasted no time indoctrinating me into his social causes and black power ideology. He told me that his passion for these causes meant that he had to devote resources and time to them and that would mean that he would not be able to offer his immediate family all the comfort and luxury that they deserve.

When, I was in high school; my father took me to all his political meetings, and introduced me to all of the significant players in the party, all over the island. And sometimes when he travelled abroad, he took me with him. Although, I enjoyed the outings, I always felt resentful that I had to compete with other people for my father's attention. I resented playing second fiddle to all his different causes and people. My father and I had a close relationship except for those typical years of adolescent tribulations. However the context for writing this letter was that of a moment of intense and acute personal pain that was once again ignored in preference of my father's bigger causes.

First of all, the Debbie who wrote that letter 10 years ago is not the same person. I have matured. Secondly, in retrospect this was certainly not the best way to address a private issue concerning a family matter. But, this letter was written, because of my anger at my father and the circumstances that I found myself in. Those circumstances made me angry and frustrated. I was staying in a shelter for the homeless in Toronto and had successfully completed my LL.B in the U.K, under what were very difficult conditions. I felt that I needed my father's attention more than ever but that was not forthcoming. While looking for work for the summer, hoping to return to London to write my bar exams, I asked my father for assistance (i.e. financial) to pay for the bar program, my request was denied. You could imagine my disappointment not being able to take my bar exams and living in a shelter in Toronto. I got very angry and I decided to write this letter hoping to bring to his attention to my plight and to get some assistance. I was made to understand later that my father used our family fiancés to fund the party. Writing the letter was not the most ideal response to a very complicated history between my father and his family, but I was so angry and was unable to see reason.

Most people in my situation would have felt the same way. I am surprise that Tony Astaphan (SC) would violate the sacred trust between my father and me and post this letter as if that was the only thing that defined my relationship with my father. Mr. Astaphan was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, so he lacks empathy for the poor and sound political judgment. Instead, he prefers to cast aspersions on me and other members of my family after being a significant benefactor of my father's sacrifices for the party that he now represents. I am sure if he had to study law under those conditions, he would find it very difficult if not impossible to succeed. That he would make fun of my suffering and use the letter (to blackmail) me, to suit his own political agenda points to the brawling flaws in his character. His behavior in this instance is obviously unscrupulously ruthless. I will not be blackmailed, because, I as a Dominican, I have a right to speak out on issues affecting my country. It was not Tony, but my father, who spent 20 years in opposition and who worked very hard, sacrificed his family, his life, and spent all of his money to keep the Dominica Labour Party's (DLP) dream alive. Were it not for his hard work, and also that of my uncle, former leader of the DLP, The Right Hon. Michael Anthony Douglas and the late Prime Minister, Pierre Charles, the DLP would have died a natural death and gone into oblivion. The current DLP leadership has no track record of having spent a day in the struggle; they are just beneficiaries of my father's hard work and sacrifice. They will not silence me, because, my family and I have borne the brunt of my father's sacrifice.

It is a known fact that my father was a selfless man in the sense that he neglected himself and family in pursuit of a people centered political ambition. When, I went to his house after his funeral, I was surprise to find that his utility bills were unpaid and about to be disconnected, yet he was paying the electricity bills for many of the needy people in the town. Rosie also ignored his health, just a month before he died, his younger brother, Dr. Montgomery Douglas told him to come for a check up and he refused. That an intelligent man like my dad would ignore doctors' advice and go jet setting around the world in search of funds for Dominica shows that he was very committed to helping his country. While he may have forsaken his biological children, he certainly did not forsake the people of Dominica or the challenges of Caricom.

Now that I am older and more mature, I am more able to understand his life and the causes that he championed. I believe the cause of fighting for the human rights of black people in Dominica, Canada and throughout the world are noble endeavors. I have forgiven him, and atoned for this letter. I was one of the chief organizers of his State Funeral. In a speech (please see attachment) that I gave at a rally in tribute to him, I acknowledged the fact that the sacrifices that he made were for a higher purpose. I ended my speech by saying that I was happy that the time and resources that he diverted from his family were invested in the people of Dominica. I am immensely proud of his legacy and what he achieved on behalf of humanity. I believe it is a legacy worth preserving and I intend to do just that.

From this perspective I have developed the confidence and right to claim my father's legacy the more I understood his sacrifices and familial sufferings. I will use that legacy to empower our people. I am my father's daughter, totally fearless, and I will not be intimidated by anyone. My cause is that of defending the highest hopes and best aspirations of Dominicans and by extended the Caribbean's needs.

If I bury my head in the sand and stop talking out against injustice at home and abroad I would be betraying my father's teachings, values and legacy. This I can never do. When, I visited Dominica last month, I was greeted with love and affection by the people who still remember my father and spoke about him in legendary terms. Many people came up to me to express personal accounts of their sufferings, and many voiced that the DLP under its current leadership, has betrayed my father's legacy. In stark contrast to the values that my father represent, the DLP government is more interested in pursuing a selfish and self centered agenda that benefits just a few, while the masses suffer. Because I suffered, I can relate to these people's suffering, that is why I decided to speak up on their behalf. Most Dominicans are not concern about a letter that I wrote a decade ago, but they are interested in bread and butter issues and in wise governance from those they elect to ensure their prosperity.

My father's vision for Dominica where Dominicans control their own natural resources to help develop themselves is ultimately worth following, even if he had human foibles and made questionable personal judgment calls. That is why I supported the Clean Energy Corporation (CEC). They felt that Dominica's natural resources with respect to the geothermal issue must be owned and controlled by the government and people of Dominica. I was not raised to be a pacifist, my father always told and showed me, that I must speak up, and stand against injustice and that is what I intend to do.

Unlike the opportunists like Mr. Tony Astaphan, who was a frequent visitor to our home, when, my father was alive posing as a friend. No doubt, Tony was hoping to piggy back on his success, when he got into power. But Tony turned around after his death and hijacked the government and viciously began pursuing policies that have only brought misery to the Dominican people and wealth to himself. If my letter did not do him justice when he was alive, my advocacy on behalf of the poor will honor him now that he is dead.

Mr. Tony Astaphan is a parasite who enjoys hobnobbing with people in government and high circles. But, he is unwilling to do what it takes to earn the people's blessings; he would much rather benefit from other people's hard work. My father told me that he asked Tony on several occasions to run for the Roseau North seat and he refused, claiming that his father does not want him in politics. My father decided to challenge Tony and he went to his home and asked his father (in front of Tony) - 'why don't you want Tony to run for a seat in parliament'? His father's reply was I am not the one preventing Tony from running, look him there - why don't you ask him? It became clear to my father that Tony was interested in serving the people of Dominica in a very different manner than their needs demanded.

Also, Tony by his own admission on this blog said that he was asked to run for a seat by the Late Prime Minister of Dominica, Dame Eugenia Charles and he turned down her request. It is very obvious that Tony's interest is feeding on the people of Dominica. After all, he does not want poor people at his doorsteps begging for alms. Tony, if you want to make policies that affect the people of Dominica, you need to go to the masses and seek a mandate from them. Only then will you have credibility and be able to speak on their behalf.

In the future anyone who brings up this letter, I will ask them to refer to this article. I won't be wasting time addressing an issue that is a family matter and irrelevant to the situation in Dominica. In fact, it is a mere smoke screen to hide the real issues at stake (i.e. the welfare of Dominica and Dominicans).

Dr. Newton the questions that you raised with respect to the situation in Dominica are very interesting. I have addressed some of these issues in my previous articles, so my response will be selective.

1) I was raised in the DLP, so it was very difficult for me to come to terms with the current administration and its deficiencies. But, I could not allow partisan interest to take precedent over the national interest of Dominica. Any government that is not interested in putting the national interest above self interest is not my friend. I believe it is in the national interest that Dominica must have full ownership of its natural resources. We cannot hope to create any real economic growth if we give ownership of our natural resources to foreigners. I make no apologizes for taking that position, and if the DLP is pursuing a different agenda; I feel that I must condemn their actions and rightly so. Might, I add that in the last month, I have received numerous phone calls and emails from Dominicans at home and abroad, thanking me for taking a firm position with respect to the geothermal issue.

2) I do not know Mr. Skeritt's advisers, but judging from his policies it is fair to say that he is getting the wrong advice. I would agree with you that these advisers lack the world-wise complexity and experience needed to assist the government in delivering results. Tony is one of the P.M's main advisers and as you can see he is unable to defend the government's policies, so he resorts to thuggish tactics like blackmail - how sad! They say you judge a man by the company he keeps, sadly, the P.M's advisers is a reflection of him.

3) I have stated in my previous articles that the DLP administration is not a reflection of my father or his principles, so I won't elaborate on that point any further. Suffice to say that I have come to the realization that the DLP under this current leadership is not a serious organization.

4) It does not appear that there is any interest by this current administration to attract new talent. Again, I already addressed that in my previous articles that this DLP administration is not interested in recruiting talented Dominicans. They are often rejected in favour of foreigners for obvious reasons. This administration is more interested in hiring person(s) who are loyal to the leadership and interested in their own selfish ambition. Is it any wonder the administration is short of talented people, instead mediocrity seemed to be the norm - what a sad state of affairs!

I can only hope that the administration in Roseau change its course, before it is too late. But, I don't hold out much hope for that. One thing is certain though; I will not be silenced into speaking up against this regime's devious behaviors. I will defend my father's legacy, because, I am his flesh and blood. Parasites like Tony will not prevent me from speaking the truth. Members of the DLP are simply benefiting from my family's hard work and sacrifice, and don't you dare forget that, so show some respect to the Douglas Family.

Stop harassing the Douglas', who work for the government, they have a right to be there. My family members have the experience, skills and education for the jobs that they hold. Stop being jealous of us, it is not our fault; you guys did not invest in yourselves to hold the jobs that you have. You have no idea how much my father's death has devastated his family, so don't rub salt in our wounds; leave us alone.

Any attempt to victimize my family members in Dominica as a result of this article will be met with public condemnation (at home and abroad) and severe legal action. I am sick and tired of some members of the DLP disrespect for my family and foolish insults towards them. And, I will not put up with it. The Douglas Family has produced three generations of parliamentarians. We have served the people of Dominica faithfully. We have received nothing in return for our service. We do not have any offshore accounts or material possessions. All we have to show for our hard work and sacrifice are two dead men buried at Hamsptead Estate - my father, the Late Prime Minister, Rosie Douglas and my uncle, former leader of the DLP, the Late Hon. Michael Anthony Douglas. We Douglas' have given our sweat, blood, money, time, talent et al in service to the people of Dominica. We are a family worthy of respect not disrespect. I am not begging you for respect, but I am demanding it, because, we deserve it. No social upstart, with no track record of public service to Dominica (prior to being elected in government) will undermine my family's contribution and legacy.

You may have power now, but power is transient. Like I said in my radio interview two weeks ago, power comes from the people not the government; they put you there, and they can remove you. If you think I am joking, just take a look at all the new faces in Caricom in the last 15 months. My suggestion to the leadership of the DLP is this: Focus on delivering good and transparent governance to the people of Dominica or the wind of change that is blowing in the Caribbean will send you into oblivion.

Since, the likes of Tony will stop at nothing to shut me up; I am a Canadian citizen, so next time that I am travelling to the Caribbean. I will register with the Canadian Embassy in Trinidad, so if anything happens to me, international justice will be served. You know the saying desperate men turn to desperate measures.

I will not let my suffering go in vain and I will defend the rights of the working people of Dominica and the Caribbean. I will not be sidelined by mediocre and selfish people who have no genuine interest in the plight of the masses. God has blessed me with talent and a good mind, and I intend to put it to good use in the service of our people.

Respectfully submitted by,

Debbie A. Douglas

Formerly of Portsmouth, Dominica, now living in Toronto, Canada


Hon. Prime Minister Pierre Charles, Ministers of the Government and Parliamentary Representatives, Foreign dignitaries, people of Portsmouth and people of Dominica. On behalf of the Douglas family and my beloved and dearly departed father Rosie especially, I would like to welcome you to this tribute to honor my late father, your Prime Minister.

It is very difficult to talk to you about my father's life in just a few words, because there is so much to say Dominica and the Caribbean have lost one of their brightest sons. My father stood up for what he believed in and fought for a better life for all Dominicans and benevolent causes throughout the world. Upon his return to Dominica in 1976, he founded the Popular Independence Committee in order to campaign for Dominica's independence from Britain. His efforts were successful and in 1978 we were granted independence from England.

He was a man who believed in creating opportunities for all Dominicans regardless of class or creed. He felt that Dominicans should have access to a good education and initiated contact with Cuban government to obtain scholarships for Dominican students. Thanks to his selfless efforts, many Dominicans have graduated from institutions of higher learning in Cuba....we have Cuban train doctors, nurses, agronomist, teachers, just to mention a few.

He was a very determined and courageous man. In 1980 he contested his first elections in Dominica when he ran for the Paix Bouche Constituency. He lost that election by a narrow margin of 160 votes to Jenner Annour, but did not give up and continued campaigning even up until the day after the election. In 1985 his hard work paid off and he was elected to the Dominican Parliament as representative for the Paix Bouche Constituency. He served his people well and faithfully by continuing to strive towards higher aspirations.

In 1992, with the death of his older brother and Labour Party leader the late Hon. Michael Douglas, he assumed the leadership of the DLP and strove to unite and to build the Labour Party into a force that would and could lead the government. My father felt the DLP was the Party that was going to put Dominica on a sound economic path and would cure the ills of unemployment, homelessness, poor quality health care, etc. His hard work paid off in the year 2000 when early elections were called in January and the DLP and DFP successfully joined forces to defeat the UWP government. This coalition government was a hallmark in the history of Dominica and a tribute to his leadership in light of the fact that many thought the coalition would not succeed. He was a selfless, determined, confident man who loved his country and believed in the people of Dominica. One of his favorite saying was: "No government should be in power which did not have the confidence in its people regardless of their level of development". My father took his job very seriously and worked tirelessly for those who were less privileged or in greatest need. His door was always open to the public. He undertook a very strenuous traveling schedule to solicit assistance for and to bring potential investors to Dominica. He was beginning to put in place programs and projects that would help lift our country out of economic stagnation and growing poverty. His untimely death came as a shock to all of us who loved him. Though he did not complete his mission as he envisioned it, he would want us to continue the struggle for economic self-determination.

We will all miss him, but his spirit will live in our hearts and his dreams will never die. I am happy that the time and resources that he diverted from his family were invested in the People of Dominica. We must continue to hope for a better future for our children and work together selflessly to achieve these goals that he held as his highest priority. The struggle continues. Forward ever, Backward Never!!!!!!!!!!!

At September 2, 2008 1:30 AM , Blogger Jefferson Challenger said...

Wow...I am still waiting for my head to stop spinning!!
But thanks Debbie for clearing the air a bit (well, a lot). I remember a few postings ago Ms. Anonymous asked the question, where is all this coming from and where is this going?

But your letter definitely puts some of the history into perspective.

Firstly, let me say that I give the Douglas family all the RESPECT! Since I am forty-something, I know of Rosie and the early years. Of course, earlier on you really had no idea what was happenning. You know, as you get older and you are able to discern truth from fiction, then you have total admiration for the MAN! You Debbie, were in the eye of the storm, so I/we appreciate your perspective on things.

Secondly, I am not sure of your previous discussions/contacts with Mr. Astaphans, but from your response here it looks like he has crossed the line. I get the impression that he somehow had a copy of a letter that you wrote to your father, and decided to put it on the web. You believe that it was a blackmail situation, but whatever his reasons let me say that the man is WRONG. I will expect him to call you and acknowledge his error, and ask for your forgiveness! Please forgive him when he asks.

Thirdly, I can see why those folks are irritating you. But, if you can, try to show them that you are better than dem (Dominican for "they are"), by not calling them names and ting! Like they say, "Take The High Road".

And I think lastly, have you spoken to the PM? Just curious. I would like to think that he would like sitting and talking with you. Why would I think that? I don't know - just reaching I guess. I know that if you are speaking to him, you would not have to deal with the in-betweens. I think the PM could benefit with your counsel. I always like to think that we can work together. I really do not like the things that I hear out there. We do not have a large enough population to be in such turmoil.

Again, my post here is not to add anymore gasolene to the fire (I would have used the patois word here, but I cannot spell it), but to help us resolve the issue(s). Which reminds me that I have not addressed the issue :-). I hope that the contract did not happen as has been described. And, I am not sure that what we are calling for can be accomplished. Well lets put it that way: it can be accomplished, but it will cost a few dollars. Hopefully, after paying that fee there is profit left in the enterprise.

Okay, I can do some homework now! I just had to respond, because I could feel the pain of the young lady. Hang in there Debbie!!

At September 6, 2008 11:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have preferred all this in increments.. Like part one, part two, part three, maybe up to part ten.. This is a lot for one to digest just by reading a blog.. In any event reading from the few paragrahs that I was able to keep my attention focued on, it clear that there is fractional war in the labor camp, apparently certain elements have highjacked the labor party, and they hope Dominica with it.. Nothing to low for them to do in order to attain their unscrupulous goals.. I to admired Rosie, he was cool, I don't know too much about Debbie to comment on her, AND I HATE WHAT TONY REPRESENTS!) all I say it that regardless of what her relationship was with her father, she has a legitimate right to protect his legacy (positively) whatever that was.. It looks like this fight is getting to the un-reconcilable threshold, Right now it looks like this fight is between two personalities who both believe that they are somewhat entitled to dictate what should and shoul not happen in Dominica.. Right or wrong.. I do not agree with the decision to give outsiders first prioirty in business in Dominica, not only in this particular project, but in others as well.. But unless we are united in this fight as a people.. Those who currently hold power will win.. And that's the way it is!


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